Can It Possibly Be? Even More Blurt-mail???

Correspondence from Readers, Page Eight


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Subject: Yet More Praise For Let It Blurt
Date: Fri, 17 Aug 2001 00:44:16 +0100
From: "Colm McAuliffe"

Hey there:

With regards to " Let It Blurt ", it certainly served as inspiration for any aspiring music journalists; although I was dismayed at the suggestions somewhere that Lester's musings would not be
considered acceptable today....nevertheless, it was a truly excellent read, in particular the article tagged
on at the end re guide to becoming a music critic...both this and Psychotic Reactions... should be required
reading for any wishing to become a music critic...oh, and the fact that you spend your time listening to
Wire was just the icing on the cake...good on ya!


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Subject: Thanks for Let It Blurt
Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2001 14:31:19 -0700
From: "Macrae, Scott"


Just finished reading Let It Blurt, and wanted to thank you for writing it, so thoroughly and so well.

And thank you for using a piece I wrote in 1976 for the Vancouver Sun as source material.

Partly because I was a huge fan of Lester, and more likely because you were able to use something of mine from another life and time, your book nudged a load of memories.

I came of journalistic age in the 1970s, utterly spoiled by a brief and giddy era that threw up heroes like Tom Wolfe, Hunter Thompson, David Felton (or was it Dalton? Probably both) -- and out at the periphery where it got pretty interesting, Lester

I love the idea of you traveling into New York City to catch the keys. (I guess you don't always catch them: I walked, wide-eyed, into the Rolling Stone office in 1974 under the impression that it was run like something other than Exxon, and got a
shit-on-my-shoe look from Jann Wenner for my naivete . . . ) I was probably just as nervous as you when I phoned Lester in Michigan several years earlier; I really didn't know what I'd get on his end of the line.

I'd say you and I talked to the same guy, a good and innocent heart; I really didn't recognize Lester in the didactic, humourless characteroid in Almost Famous. I interviewed Hunter Thompson in the mid-'70s, and let's just say that no matter how much
Romilar and booze Lester swallowed, he was still too sweet for the bitter self-parody of his fears and Thomson's reality.

When I finished your book, I went to the basement to see if I had a copy of the Creem story I wrote for the Vancouver Sun. A great thing about that job (after the free records, concert tickets, T-Shirts and assorted other cultural detritus) was these big
scrapbooks of each writer's work that the features department secretary kept. I thought it was pretty neat at the time that someone else was paid to do the heavy-lifting ego work that we were way too cool to be seen doing ourselves. (I married her.)
Afterward, and before databases, the scrapbooks make up for young drugs and old age.

How on earth did you ever find it?

I had long forgotten two other Lester pieces that I found in one of the scrapbooks. In one, just a five-graf update for a New Year's looking-back story in January 1997, I quoted him in a phone call from New York: "Creem was always a comfortable berth. I
was sort of a big fish in a small pond. It is much more insecure here but the challenges are greater."

Then I did another phoner with Lester (Into Showbiz with a Bangs!, July 22, 1977) on his CBGB performances. My story is hellishly self-indulgent, and on several re-readings today I can't divine my point of view: Did I take his move to music straight-up?
Or was I exhibiting ambivalence, if not hostility, at the prospect of Lester the writer being seduced by the object of his real talent? I expect it was much the latter, because my attraction to Lester was more to his writing, less to the passion for
music. Of course, teasing the two apart is a futile task, but to me the tragedy of his stupid, stupid death is we didn't get to see where his writing could have gone.

The story has some quotes from Lester on the CBGB shows, how he hates rock stars and how he's serious about his music. He gave me these lyrics for the story:

You can talk till you're blue in the face
About human rights in Uruguay
Write books on the problem of race
Or genocide in Paraguay

What do you do for we who are no longer human
What measure of grace
When you've dismissed us from the human race
We are no longer human/no longer human/no longer human
But what are you?

When I was two-thirds through Let It Blurt, I retrieved a letter Lester wrote after he read the Sun story you use in your book appeared. I used it as a bookmark for Let It Blurt, and now have a much better place to store it.

The letter is undated, on the reverse of a screamingly funny Carpenters' record company news release (for reasons of indigence rather than recycling ethic, or even irony, I'd guess.) Of course, I was so flattered by the letter that the fact that he was
hustling me for freelance work sailed right over my head. (The Vancouver Sun did run his Canadian beer piece, and so doubtless helped bankroll his move to New York City.)

Dear Scott:

Thanks for the fantastic articles; I blushed. Really, it was the best write-up I've ever received -- I only hope I can live up to it. Only had two complaints: I thought it sounded in the quotes almost a little bit too much like I was saying Creem was
just a crappy underground rag until I came along, and also I have not gone out to California to be an editor of Chic with Ed Ward.

As a matter of fact, I am freelancing full time and getting ready to move to New York. One of my first freelance pieces was the enclosed, which I did in a slightly different form for the Windsor Star. My friend John Laycock of the Star suggested I send
it to your paper as well, so I'm sending it to you. Please let me know if you can use it. I had a lot more fun with it than writing Aerosmith reviews, I can tell you that.

Thanks for your consideration and everything else,

Lester Bangs

P.S. John also said to tell you that the Star has pictures of me researching the piece should you require them.

Jim: Thanks for a great book.

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Subject: Let it blurt
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 19:05:04 -0400
From: "Joseph Tepperman"

dear jim derogatis,

hi, how are you? i just finished reading "let it blurt" and i really enjoyed it. just writing to you about the
bibliography... i don't have anything to add to it, but i was wondering where i can find some of lester's
articles online (the ones that aren't included in "psychotic reactions and carburetor dung", of course...).
i've seen his review of patti smith's "horses" and some interviews with brian eno and captain beefheart,
all scattered on different sites, but do you know of a web page that has lots of bangs articles archived?
i understand you like the flaming lips. right on! which of the bands that have come up since his death
do you think lester would've liked? do your tastes differ much from lester's?
anyways, thanks for a well-written and -researched book. write back when you have time, please.

jjjjjjoe tepperman

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Subject: fan letter
Date: Sat, 11 Aug 2001 11:54:09 -0400
From: David Shenk


I somehow completely missed the U.S. publication of Let it Blurt, but was lucky enough to run into the UK edition (haunting cover) a few weeks ago in Cambridge.

Your book is terrific. I really admire your indefatigable fact-gathering and storytelling. Most impressively, you managed to portray the greatness and tragedy of Bangs without Jim Morrisoning him. It's a neat trick and as a writer I'm even now wondering how you pulled it off. If I ever profile someone that mythic, I know I'll be going back to your book to study your methods.


David Shenk

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